When you're mounting a straight-faced and sincere political thriller, I believe that historical accuracy can be a huge asset for a movie. But when it comes to simple-minded flag-waving rah-rah action flicks, the devotion to facts and figures can be a crutch at best ... and a bore at worst.
The generally generic Behind Enemy Lines 2: Axis of Evil hopes to maintain some 'topicality' by throwing around a whole lot of facts and bullet points about North Korea and its recent problems with, well, with the rest of the planet. But by kicking off their escapist-style war flick with so much airy lecturing, the creators of BEL2 have sucked a lot of fun from what should have been a mindlessly entertaining collection of machine gun battles.
Ultimately, this in-name-only sequel is 35% machine gun battles, 60% instantly forgettable blather, and 5% Ben Cross, Keith David, and Peter Coyote yelling at video screens.
Nicholas Gonzalez and Matt Bushell play a pair of Navy SEALs who have their secret mission to North Korea scrubbed at the last minute, only to find themselves accidentally stuck "behind enemy lines" as the North Koreans do all they can to prevent the American soldiers from drawing a fresh breath. But escape is not the only order of the day; seems our heroic young men might be able to prevent a nuclear "incident" by poking around North Korea and finding a certain missle site.
Basically, if you're a fan of war movies both great and small, you'll probably find a passable amount of entertainment within Behind Enemy Lines 2. As for me, all I saw was a handful of redundant sequences of rat-a-tat machine gun first that are punctuated by long and arid moments of character actors spouting military jargon and ham-fisted dollops of plot exposition. Relatively well-directed (for a low-budget quickie sequel) and all but drenched in obvious jingoism, BEL2 will offer a mild diversion to the action aficionadoes, but even those who like the flick will probably erase it from their memory banks in less than a week.
Video: The movie is presented in your choice of anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) or 1.33:1 full frame. I went with the WS option, and was mildly impressed by the picture qaulity.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, DD 2.0 Spanish, DD2.0 French. Optional subtitles are available in all three languages. Audio quality is typically strong. Dialogue levels are fine, machine guns and explosions are suitably loud.
Writer/director James Dodson provides an audio commentary which is fairly forthcoming and full of information, but the filmmaker's voice is a bit sonorous -- and his insights might have been better balanced with maybe a co-commentator.
Also on board are a pair of featurettes:
Exploring Enemy Lines: Decision and Perception (8:50) is Dodson explaining how North Korea's political climate makes for a "perfect fit" for a goofball war flick. Military advisor Hash Shaalan sheds a little light on the true "SEAL" experience.
Communicating Behind Enemy Lines: A Look on the Set (?) is a featurette I was unable to access, since Fox is using this "screener disc policy" that sends non-retail platters to the reviewers. The full-frame disc, which also houses this featurette, was glitchy and inaccessible on all three of my DVD players.
Rounding out the two-sider is a collection of trailers for Behind Enemy Lines 2: Axis of Evil and Behind Enemy Lines.
Rent It if you love those chest-thumping "America Rocks!" war movies, but this DVD-quel is sorely lacking the style and energy of its multiplex predecessor. Plus that one had Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman, whereas this one ... doesn't.